The NewsBusters Time Machine returns this week with Diane Sawyer gushing to Iran’s former President about what a softie the Holocaust denier is. Seven years ago this week, the then-Good Morning America co-host interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and wondered what makes him cry.
A light satirical article that serves to flatter its Holocaust-denying subject was posted at The New Yorker and in the October 29 print edition, under the headline “Mahmoud from Tehran,” by Zach Helfand, who writes about sports for the magazine. “Mahmoud” would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran, murderous tyrant and Holocaust denier who has picked up a weird hobby of tweeting about American sports. But Helfand was notably light on the Iranian dictator, barely mentioning his offenses against decency:
Hey, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has retired as president of Iran. Why didn't NBC hire him and cut out the middle-man? But seriously, what did NBC think it was getting when it hired as a "contributor" someone who served as Ahmadinejad's translator and who in that role mouthed his vicious anti-Semitic rants?
On Chris Hayes' MSNBC show this evening, Hooman Majd claimed the Iran deal is "a good deal for Iran, probably a better deal for the US," and that the US is not giving up anything, that there is no "signing bonus" since "it is Iran's money." In an illogical leap worthy of the man he translated for, Majd argued that it makes no sense to worry about Iran attacking the US or Israel since it hasn't done so yet. Ah, right, Mr. Majd: Iran hasn't gotten the atom bomb yet. That's the point. And for that matter, Iran and its proxies have attacked and killed many Americans and Israelis.
On Friday's All In show on MSNBC, as host Chris Hayes was joined by fellow MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow to gush over President Obama being the first American president since 1979 to speak with an Iranian president, Hayes at one point drew an analogy between former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's more radical faction and former President George W. Bush's "kind of neocon cowboy who liked to go around the world inflaming the world with rhetoric."
After making the obnoxious link, Hayes then clarified that he did not intend to suggest that Bush was "morally equivalent" to Ahmadinejad. Hayes:
The Daily Beast is no stranger to criticism from yours truly nor from NewsBusters in general, but today I have to give kudos to Michael Moynihan for his excellent critique of sloppy journalism from CNN.
In "What Hassan Rouhani Really Said About the Holocaust," the Daily Beast culture news editor took the news network to task for reporting that the newly-installed Iranian president, unlike his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was NOT a Holocaust denier. But it seems that CNN was relying on Rouhani's official translator, who, it seems, deliberately watered down the English translation for American consumption. Moynihan explains (portions in bold reflect my emphasis):
CBS’s David Letterman made a disgraceful joke Monday evening comparing Iran’s crazed despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to former President George W. Bush.
During the opening monologue of the Late Show, the host said, “Ahmadinejad is retiring. He's going to spend all of his time on his ranch in Crawford, Texas” (video follows with transcribed lowlights and commentary):
Seventeen days before Election Day and 45 months after Barack Obama's inauguration following a presidential campaign during which he expressed his eagerness to meet enemy leaders "without preconditions" (Obama responded "yes" to a 2008 presidential debate question containing those words), the New York Times is reporting that the U.S. and Iran "have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations," despite the fact that the White House has "denied that a final agreement (to negotiate) had been reached," and despite a reactive AP report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) claiming that while "The White House says it is prepared to talk one-on-one ... there's no agreement now to meet."
Despite the supposed certainty of the Times's headline ("U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks"), the paper's Helene Cooper and Mark Landler report that "American officials said they were uncertain whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had signed off on the effort." If Khamenei isn't on board, it doesn't matter what anybody else, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says or does. Three years ago, two AP reporters covering the government's crackdown on dissidents noted Khamenei's "virtually limitless authority," i.e., he's the country's behind-the-scenes dictator. In a piece that's supposed to be about a supposedly important international development, Cooper and Landler predictably blow through quite a bit of ink and bandwidth trying to paint this development as a problem for Obama's GOP opponent Mitt Romney (bolds are mine):
What is Piers Morgan thinking? On Monday, he said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "makes perfect rational sense" when talking about broadly about "Afghanistan and Iraq and America's response to 9/11." On Wednesday night, he cast Ahmadinejad's UN speech as "for him, relatively low key, dare I say almost reasonable."
New York Times columnist Nick Kristof was quick to provide some context. "It was reasonable by Ahmadinejad standards," he noted. "Not by sort of normal conventional standards."
In a pre-recorded interview with former President Bill Clinton aired on Tuesday's Piers Morgan Tonight, CNN host Morgan fawned over the former Democratic President and complained about the "God damned Twenty-Second Amendment" as he suggested that Clinton should be President "for the next 30 years."
In an interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, CNN's Piers Morgan asked him about his love life and got into an exchange with him about women not being able to ski by themselves in Iran.
"How many times in your life, Mr. President, have you been properly in love?" Morgan asked at the end of the interview. "I'm in love with all of humanity," answered Ahmadinejad, to which Morgan responded "That might be the best answer I've ever heard to that question."
Last Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad posted on his website his most recent anti-Semitic tirade, saying global forces should join together to annihilate Israel. Meanwhile, in Orlando, Fla., President Barack Obama had a takeout plate of pulled pork and rice.
The Jerusalem Post reported Ahmadinejad as saying, "Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world justice and freedom."
A few years ago, when FNC's Fox and Friends substitute co-anchor Peter Johnson, Jr., accidentally referred to left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as "Cesar Chavez," the famous American labor and civil rights activist, the flub received attention from some of FNC's left-wing critics, even though the FNC host corrected himself moments later.
But Tuesday's World News on ABC demonstrates that you don't have to be a target of the left to make the same flub. (Video below)